The molecular basis of pollinator-mediated reproductive isolation and speciation
Divergent selection by the environment can result in the establishment of reproductive isolation and, thereafter, the divergence of lineages. We are primarily interested in ecological speciation processes and the molecular basis of adaptive traits under divergent selection that contribute to reproductive isolation among lineages.
Sexually deceptive orchids provide an excellent study system for addressing these questions because of their high specificity of pollinator attraction, which lies in their chemical mimicry of the pollinator female’s sex pheromone. Our current research focuses on the molecular basis of orchid traits involved in highly specific pollinator attraction, such as genes controlling differences in pheromone biosynthesis among orchid species with different pollinators. Integrating the use of genetic, genomic and biochemical tools with ecological field experiments, we work towards the identification and understanding of the functional genetic changes that are involved in reproductive isolation and speciation.
- Barrier/speciation genes
- Ecological speciation with gene flow
- Molecular basis of adaptation
- Pollinator-mediated reproductive isolation
- Sexually deceptive orchids
- Pollination biology and chemical ecology (collaboration with Florian Schiestl)
- Analysis of gene function (collaboration with Ueli Grossniklaus)
- Evolutionary and ecological functional genomics
- Population genomics